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Review: ‘The Bookshop’ Brings Complexity to a Story of Nostalgia

Looks are deceiving with Isabel Coixet’s The Bookshop, an adaptation of Penelope Fitzgerald’s Booker Prize-shortlisted novel from 1978. What appears to be a run-of-the-mill drama that will surely fall into the usual clichés of perseverance and eventual victory about a woman standing up to a small town of bullies that sees her as an outsider is actually much more complex. Rather than be about an ever-increasing contingent of allies coming out of the woodwork to rally around her as she sticks it to the haughty aristocrats up on the hill, this story focuses upon the unfortunate reality that money and power will almost always prevail. Instead of fantasizing about an old-fashioned conservative community’s wholesale ideological change, Fitzgerald and Coixet reveal how success happens one person at a time.

It’s the type of message that simultaneously inspires and frustrates in today’s climate of bullish partisans refusing to

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